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Anti-Smoking Amendment Moves Forward In Senate

Meanwhile, tobacco pact opponents accuse industry of legal dodges

tobacco

WASHINGTON (AllPolitics, Sep. 3) -- It wasn't a great day for Big Tobacco on Capitol Hill on Wednesday, as senators unexpectedly approved the Clinton Administration's request for $34 million to fight teenage smoking. Meanwhile, two lawmakers participating in the Senate's tobacco settlement hearings lambasted the industry for withholding information.

The $34 million was part of a larger budget for the Food and Drug Administration. In July senators had allocated only $4.9 million, which would have funded the FDA's anti-cigarette proposals in just 10 states.

But following a vigorous anti-smoking lobbying effort this August, a surprising number of senators switched course, voting 70-28 to allow the higher funding amount to be added to the agriculture appropriations bill.

The legislation's chief sponsor, Sen. Tom Harkin of Iowa, was delighted.

"Big tobacco fought it because they want to keep on getting these kids hooked," Harkin declared. "This is one step in a big battle, but it's a great step."

Some senators may have changed their position after the $34 million was found in the Agriculture Department and stripped out of its computer budget, instead of through a levy on tobacco companies.

"I think in many case people have had a closer look and that they feel very comfortable with the vote," said Senate Minority Leader Tom Daschle of South Dakota, who switched his vote.

Sharp words for Big Tobacco

lautenberg

Separately, a Senate committee took up the proposed $368 billion settlement to resolve state lawsuits against the tobacco industry to recover the costs of treating smoking-related illness. Congress is not expected to act on the controversial matter until next year.

"At this point, it doesn't appear as if we're prepared ... to come to any conclusion about the tobacco agreement," Daschle said. "We want to make sure we've covered the bases."

However, two Democratic senators participating in the talks held a press conference, leveling allegations that the tobacco industry has not been forthcoming with lawmakers.

durbin

"We say this to big tobacco: Cough up," said New Jersey Sen. Frank Lautenberg. "Cough up the documents and cough up the truth. The documents released in Florida show the industry considered a root-beer flavored cigarette. Then they have the nerve to say they don't want to market to children.

"Is the industry smoking something besides tobacco?" the New Jersey Democrat asked.

Sen. Richard Durbin, an Illinois Democrat, accused the industry of "legal dodges," saying, "It would be the height of embarrassment for Congress to enact a settlement and then discover at some later date the damaging evidence that has been concealed by the tobacco industry. We can't let that happen."


In Other News:

Wednesday Sept. 3, 1997

Arizona Gov. Symington Guilty
Justice Looking At Gore's Fund-raising Calls
At Least Two Nuns To Testify Thursday
Anti-Smoking Amendment Moves Forward In Senate
The Buddhist Temple Event: Papers On The Trail
White House Releases Documents On Gore Fund-raiser
Drudge Strikes Back, Sort Of
House Returns For Overseas Aid Debate

E-mail From Washington:
Burton Asks White House To Explain New Fund-Raising Documents





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